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Do Gluten-Free Foods Need A Separate Aisle?

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Do GF Foods Need a Separate Aisle?  

18 members have voted

  1. 1. Should major grocers segregate gluten free items into a special section of the store?

    • Yes, overall it is better to have all gluten free mixes, snacks, and frozen foods in one easy-to-find section.
    • No, in the end it is more trouble to look for gluten free foods in two places.
    • It's a toss up - both methods have advantages.
  2. 2. What are the biggest advantages or disadvantages of a separate gluten free section? (check all that apply)

    • Advantage: My non-gluten-free friends and family can quickly locate special items in a special aisle when they shop for me.
    • Advantage: I buy mostly specialty gluten-free items, so with a special aisle I can do much of my shopping in one place.
    • Advantage: I am new to the gluten-free diet, so I'm more likely to discover gluten-free products in a more compact specialty aisle.
    • Advantage: I like to see that my grocer cares about food sensitivities.
    • Disadvantage: Plenty of "regular" foods are now labeled gluten-free, so it is already easy enough to shop in the regular aisles.
    • Disadvantage: I shop for non-gluten-free items as well, and I like to buy similar items all from the same shelf.
    • Disadvantage: It is more difficult to compare prices with other products if they appear in another part of the store.
    • Disadvantage: Sometimes the grocer is unaware that certain foods are gluten-free or doesn't have a particular product, so I still end up searching the other aisles of the store.
    • Disadvantage: I am uncomfortable having to shop in a segregated section of the store.
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    • Disadvantage: gluten-free items, just like "low cholesterol," or "dairy free" items, should be accessible so that the general public might consider trying them, which could ensure that my favorite brands stay popular.


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Many major grocers are taking up the trend of establishing a separate "Gluten Free Aisle" of the store. What does the celiac community think of this idea? As the author of the poll, I have to admit my own bias: while I'm delighted that grocers are making gluten free selections a priority, in the end I find it fairly inconvenient to finish my shopping with a special visit to the Gluten Free Section for the items that I could not find in the rest of the store. I'd love to know what others think about this, and how this trend came about. Thanks in advance for participating!

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I have a chain of stores here that has a gluten free aisle but they also put all the organic items in the same aisle. So for example, the organic wheat pasta is mixed in with the gluten free pasta. They also have all the sugar free/diabetic items in tha same aisle. Since things are not separated by gluten-free, sugar free and organic it sort of defeats the purpose, imo, but on the other hand I DO appreciate the gluten-free flours being separate from the baking aisle. One of my other stores has King Arthur gluten-free flour in the middle of the regular bags of flour. The box is always coated in a fine dust of flour. I have to hold my breath when I go down that aisle and get my gluten-free flour. Then I have to take out wipes and wipe down the box, then I have to be very careful not to touch my face and go wash my hands before leaving the store. So having that box of gluten-free flour in a separate section would be great for me. I am super sensitive to CC and I shouldn't have to risk exposure everytime I shop. I also like the separate section because I don't really visit many aisles anyway. I get meat, fresh fruit and veggies, maybe some Almond milk or coconut milk from the dairy section and that is it. It's nice to be able to go in, go to the one gluten-free aisle and get what I need then go to the produce and then to meat section and be done.

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My local chain grocers had a small Gluten-free section, and until recently I thought that was where they had all their gluten-free products (which included noodles, mixes, crackers and other things.) I was shocked when I saw they had suddenly started stocking Udi's bread and others in the freezer section. I would have never looked outside of the store's one little area. Later on I found they were stocking Gluten-free noodles in the pasta aisle and various other products in their "normal" locations. I like the fact that they have more stuff now, but if you don't give the shoppers notice, how are we to know? I'd rather not play Where's Waldo? for my groceries.

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I'd rather have my gluten-free food segregated to avoid increased chances of cc AT the store. It's a matter of safety rather than convenience, IMHO. Too often, I've seen whole wheat boxed mixes or flours on a shelf develop a hole, and you can see where the flour has poured out and onto the gluten-free mixes.

I don't really look forward to bringing in gluten-covered box mixes into my home.

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I'd rather have my gluten-free food segregated to avoid increased chances of cc AT the store. It's a matter of safety rather than convenience, IMHO. Too often, I've seen whole wheat boxed mixes or flours on a shelf develop a hole, and you can see where the flour has poured out and onto the gluten-free mixes.

I don't really look forward to bringing in gluten-covered box mixes into my home.

One of the stores I no longer shop in places Wheat gluten on the shelf next to the Rice flour,, :blink:

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The Albertson's in Clearview, WA has a fairly new gluten-free section. There isn't a lot in it. But the biggest complaint I have? They have other gluten-free stuff in other places. Like the Tinkyada pasta. It's not with the regular pasta either, but with the organic stuff. Why not put all of the pasta together and let us choose? Makes shopping very difficult. I was looking all over for the Teff Wraps. Found them once with the tortillas and another time in the gluten-free section. Makes it very hard to shop.

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I really appreciate hearing these points. I have not baked much since going gluten free several years ago, and I definitely haven't shopped in a typical baking aisle recently. So I haven't had the experience but I can definitely visualize the serious frustration with having to purchase something covered in gluten. I'm also extremely sensitive and that would just send me running. (Maybe it's why subconsciously I've avoided baking even though I love to cook!) And it's so true - why are bags of flour the one grocery product that aren't double sealed in heavy plastic?! It would really do a great service to encourage better packaging for flour.

I do think, though, that the art of the "gluten free aisle" still needs to be perfected. It's true that organics and other specialty items also often appear in the same section - and I think that model worked when organic food was a fringe interest that only hippies cared about. But today organic food has become much more popular... one day the Gluten Free/Organic section is going to be larger than the rest of the store ;-)

So, what is the best advice to give to grocers that are trying to do the right thing?

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Part of the reason some gluten-free items are scattered throughout the store instead of in the gluten-free section may have more to do with the manufacturer's and NOT the store. The stores place things on certain shelves according to the manufacture's requests for product placement. They pay extra to stores to have things placed at eye level for example. I have noticed that this is true of Betty Crocker gluten-free cookie/cake mixes. No matter what store I go to they are in the section with the regular baking mixes and either on the top shelf or the bottom. I don't know this for sure, but BC most likely requested the mixes be placed near their other things so that they would be more likely to get some mainstream, non-gluten free people to try them. gluten-free is becoming more of a trend and a buzzword these days and many big companies want to cash in on the customer that has no clue what gluten-free means but has heard it's "healthy" in some way and decides to throw a gluten-free cookie mix in their cart on a whim. So if we want the gluten-free flours to be separate we need to not only write the stores but also the manufacturer's of our favorite gluten-free brands.

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I shop at a very large(6 football fields big) grocery store that has a lot of specialty aisles, a wonderful international foods aisle, as well as great Asian and Mexican food aisles. They also have a gluten-free "half" aisle, but some gluten-free items (like Blue Diamond crackers) are in the "regular" aisles.

I guess, in the end, it is really up to us shoppers to find our products and shop the whole store. I don't think cross contamination is an issue, because they are all shipped in the same trucks and stored in the same back rooms before they are put on the shelf.

I do like a gluten-free area because it helps me to find products that I did not know existed. However, just the fact that the product is sitting on a shelf for specialty foods seems to give it delusions of grandeur B) and the price automatically doubles. :angry: That's why I scan the rest of the aisles periodically, for items that are gluten-free but not necessarily made specifically for celiacs.

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I asked a local store if they would separate the gluten free foods and was told that they come on the same trucks as other foods so the risk of contamination is already there. I'm sure those that stack the shelves don't wash their hands before they do it.

However, I think every step taken to cut down on cross contamination is positive so I'm all for it. One just needs to locate the gluten free section. Chances are you are going to pass it when you shop so it shouldn't be any extra bother.

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